My teenager recently saved up his money to buy an action figure he’s been eyeing. I made fun of him until he reminded me of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer figurine on my nightstand.
Maybe we’re both too old to play with toys. That doesn’t mean we’re going to stop.
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At What Age Should a Child Stop Playing with Toys?
Children should never feel like they are too old to play with toys. Play is an important part of imagination, which helps children cope with their changing minds and bodies. As they grow older, play can be a release. It offers a different type of coping mechanism that is just as important.
When to Stop Playing With Toys
Never. I would never, ever suggest to my children that there is something wrong with having toys.
For children, toys are tools. They teach, they comfort, and they bring joy. Why would I want to take that away?
I strongly believe toys are positive, and playtime should be encouraged. I also strongly believe the toys children use should evolve as they grow.
A toddler needs a toy that helps them hone fine motor skills, like this shape sorter, but that toy won’t be useful forever.
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Replace old toys with new ones that are age appropriate. For instance, an eight-year-old might love a rocket launcher.
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Saying Goodbye to Old Toys
A yearly toy purge helps children remove those items that they have outgrown. Once each year, go through all of your child’s toys. Set aside everything that is broken or has already served its purpose.
Donate what you can and recycle what you can’t. Let your children help you in this endeavor. Allow them to say goodbye to some toys they once dearly loved. Explain to them that donating toys is a great way to share their happiness with other children.
What if your children are too attached to old toys to let them go? You have a couple of options. I let my kids hold onto items that have a significant emotional attachment.
My son doesn’t have to get rid of the teddy bear we bought him on his first trip out of the country. My daughter can keep the dollhouse she put together with her own hands.
However, there are many toys that the kids want to keep for no other reason than they are used to having them around. In this case, I offer a deal. We put all of the toys in question in a box. If the toys haven’t been missed in six months, they can be donated.
Replacing Toys with New Tools
Children do eventually gravitate toward more serious items than typical, frivolous toys. Video games, tablets, and cell phones offer a different type of play than baby dolls, tea sets, and toy cars.
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Hobbies often replace typical toys once kids reach a certain age. My son is an avid collector of sports cards. He is also interested in music, so he has a guitar, keyboard, and a harmonica. These are all different types of “toys” that are dearly loved in the same way he once clung to his Buzz Lightyear.
What the Experts Say
Some say that children who continue playing with toys are stigmatized by peers. They might feel they are not maturing quickly enough if playtime still includes a tea party with Mrs. Nesbitt.
It can be good for them emotionally and socially to move on from some of their more youthful toys.
It Never Gets Old
Playtime never gets old. Children can continue playing with toys as long as they want, just make sure they have toys that suit their age and development. While you’re at it, get a fun toy for yourself!
Are your children still playing with toys? Let us know in the comments!
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